Monday, January 26, 2009

The Nanny Diaries

I watched The Nanny Diaries a few days ago. I really hate when stupid movies make me cry, but I couldn't help but shed a few tears when the child runs to the nanny for comfort instead of his own mother. Kind of struck close to home.

Of course, I'm not much like the upper east side moms in the movie who don't work but have a live-in nanny. I have a nanny because my husband and I both work full time. But that doesn't mean I don't feel guilty about leaving my daughter every day. Or become paranoid that she likes the nanny more than she likes me. We used to joke around that Melly liked our nanny best, then me, then my husband.

I returned to work from my maternity leave when Melly wasn't even two months old. I was forced to trust a complete stranger to watch my infant every day while I went to work. It all felt so pointless. Why did I have a child if I was just going to abandon her every day? This wasn't the way it was supposed to be.

The nanny was part of the reason I clung to breastfeeding as long as I did, even though my work didn't really allow me time to pump. I figured that was the one thing that only I could do for her.

As time passed, it became easier to leave my daughter every day. And thank goodness, Melly strongly prefers her parents to her nanny. (Even though our nanny is wonderful.) She cries when I leave but not when the nanny leaves.

Still, I can't help but feel a lot of guilt that someone is raising my child besides her mother.


  1. Thank you for this post. I'm going back to work part-time this week (when my baby girl is 6 wks old) and full-time at 10 wks. I'm so scared. The love I feel for her is so overwhelming, but I worry that being away from her so much (I work in an academic emergency medicine practice) will break, or at least weaken, the bond we've built this last month. I hope that she too will continue to love me more than the nanny!!

    (And - I won't watch Nanny Diaries - thanks for the warning!)

  2. Hi Fizzy--
    I know alot of your posts have a theme about feeling guilty regarding leaving your baby at home...this one especially. I'm just wondering (and I'm not trying to be crass or accusatory or mean or anything else--I'm really curious) what is it about your job that makes you willing to leave her each day? I know your job must be extremely important to you to be able to do that, and I was wondering what qualities of the job make it worth it for you to be a working mother, since alot of the time it does seem that you'd love to be able to be a stay-at-home mom?

    Best wishes!

  3. Ashley,
    I go to work every day for a few reasons:
    1) Without my salary, we wouldn't have enough money to pay the rent. (Probably the most important reason.)
    2) If I quit residency halfway through, it would be extremely hard to go back. I don't want to throw away all those years of training.
    3) Ultimately, I do think I'd be bored as a stay at home mom.

    My ideal would be to be work only parttime, but unfortunately, that's not an option in residency.

  4. My mom is a physician as well. My sister and I are pretty far apart in age (she is almost 8 years younger). When I was born, my mom took a year off from her residency and went back to work when I was almost 1. My grandmother stayed with me until I was almost 5. With my sister, my mom had to go back to work much sooner--I think my sister was a couple months old. We then got a live-in nanny who stayed with us until my sister was 13.

    Though I hated the nanny and my sister loved her, my sister is much closer to my mom than I am. There have been many moments where my sister will go to my mom while I definitely will not. That may be due more to our personalities, but either way, don't worry--when she's older, she will know who her mom is.

  5. I relate to the feelings of guilt that you write about. Since I have felt them almost daily. I have also wondered what it is that keeps me working instead of staying home. The truth is, I think I would feel nearly as guilty not finishing my training as I do leaving my kids everyday. There is just no easy option. My hope is to finish my training, and then work part-time when I have more control over my life.

  6. Ah, working motherhood. When you're at work you feel guilty about not being home. When you're home you feel guilty about not being a work. All guilt, all the time. Why does it have to be so hard?

  7. Have to say, my husband never feels guilty for being at work instead of being at home. He is happy at work and he is happy at home, but does not feel he is doing anything wrong.

  8. Tigerdad asked why I only wrote about him. "Don't you feel guilty when you're at home and guilty when you're at work?" That about sums it up hubbie.

    At least all this guilt keeps me in business! I am a psychiatrist after all.

  9. You are raising your child, and your nanny is helping you do it. When older children are in school full time, people rarely say "the school is raising your child!"

    (Actually, check out the first square on my Mommy Wars Bingo Card.)

    It's OK. It's good that you miss her, because it shows you love her. I hope you love your career choice, too.

    I worked from home after having my second child. Although I am very thankful for the two years I spent with him, I was depressed and lonely, and now feel guilty for postponing my medical career. My best balance was my first child, who I was able to bring to work with me. Of course, I wasn't a doctor.

    It's all relative. Nothing is 100% wonderful.

  10. I had a nanny from aged 3 months to 7 years old. I was lucky enough to have the same person that whole time, and she became like another member of the family. Her presence in my life just enriched my family. Although I know it was hard on my mother at times to have to turn her child over to another woman each weekday, we were all better off for it in the long run. Guilt is par for the course, but don't forget that having exposure to other people, cultures, and ideas can be a benefit to kids, too. If only my nanny had taught me Spanish growing up...

  11. I think the guilt comes from the basic nature of being a mother. Whether it is biological or taught socially, it feels fundamentally wrong to leave our kids w/ anyone else while they are young and still vulnerable. As such, we feel guilt for doing something that doesn't feel right.

    After we moved, instead of taking a job right away, i tried the stay-at-home mom gig for 10 months. I was bored, depressed, then felt guilty b/c I felt that way while spending time w/ my kids. And I think my kids picked up a little on my feelings. Now I work part-time (2.5days/week), which works out well. I still have some guilt for not being w/ my kids more, but recognize that my kids are healthy and happy, and that's the most important thing. That, and traditionally, children were brought up in a communal arena (i.e the village) w/ lots of kids and "other" mothers around them. So mothers were never alone taking care of their kids, and not only had help, but a social outlet for themselves and the children. So I do feel that the daycare I send them to is a healthy alternative to being with me all the time.

  12. Interesting comment, Tigermom, about dads not feeling this persistent guilt. That's something I've heard from many of my friends as well (not *all* of whom are doctors, LOL). I wonder why we are so unable (or unwilling??) to let go of this guilt and to just accept that we are what we are.

    Any thoughts??


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